Case Study of a Sabkha Sedimentary Environment: Mallahat al Bariquah, Libya
The importance of the sabkha sedimentary environment for formation and/or accumulation of hydrocarbons, salts, and various metalliferous mineral deposits has been recognized by many geologists. A sabkha in which sedimentation and the formation of salt deposits and hydrocarbons is in progress is located along the Mediterranean Sea coast, in northwestern Libya and northeastern Tunisia.
The sabkha Mallahat al Bariquah was drilled in a regular grid at 1-km spacing; 63 holes have been completed. The sabkha and its vicinity were geologically mapped (1:20,000). Several hundred core and loose rock samples were thoroughly examined with regard to the lithology, mineralogy, paleontology, and chemical composition. The chemistry of brine from each drill hole and solar pan was determined. Three 24-hour pumping tests were performed, and the hydrogeological conditions of the sabkha were analyzed in detail.
Economically valuable bedded salt reserves of 170,800,000 MT of NaCl were discovered and proven. Additionally, over 30 million MT of potassium, magnesium, and sodium salts including bromides are recoverable from the brine.
Although marine-coastal sabkhas are common, the extensive scope of this study is unique. Mallahat al Bariquah sabkha is not unique with regard to its geographic, climatic, or sedimentary environments. Therefore, Mallahat al Bariquah can be considered as a model applicable in exploration for and study of similar sedimentary environments in other geographic regions and older geologic epochs.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.